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IDEALS    OF    LIFE                       III
romanticism and a natural classicism in a nation, as in an individual. Taoism is the romantic school of Chinese thought, as Confucianism is the classic school. Actually, Taoism is romantic throughout. Firstly, it stands for the return to nature and the romantic escape from the world, and revolts against the artificiality and responsibilities of Confucian culture. Secondly, it stands for the rural ideal of life, art and literature, and the worship of primitive simplicity. And thirdly, it stands for the world of fancy and wonder, coupled with a childishly naive cosmogony.
The Chinese have been adjudged a matter-of-fact people. Yet there is a romantic side to their character which is even deeper, and which shows itself in their intense individuality, in their love of freedom and their happy-go-lucky view of life, which so often completely mystifies the foreign observers. For myself, I think the Chinese people are immeasurably greater for it. In every Chinese there is a hidden vagabond, with his love of vagabondage. Life under the Confucian code of decorum would be unbearable without this emotional relief. For Taoism is the playing mood of the Chinese people, as Confucianism is their working mood. That accounts for the fact that every Chinese is a Confucianist when he is successful and a Taoist when he is a failure. The naturalism of Taoism is the balm that soothes the wounded Chinese soul.
It is interesting to note how Taoism is more the creation of the Chinese people even than Confucianism and to see how the iictturalistic philosophy of Laotse became allied, through the working of the folk-mind, with the Chinese interpretation of the world of spirits. Laotse himself had nothing to do with the pill of immortality or with Taoistic magic. His was a philosophy of laissezfaire in government and naturalism in ethics. For he" believed in a "government which does nothing" as the ideal government. What man needed was to be let alone in his state of primitive freedom. Laotse regarded civilization as the beginning of man's degeneration, and considered the sages of the Confucian type as the worst corrupters of the people, as Nietzsche regarded Socrates as the first corrupter of Europe. With his mordant wit, he said, "Sages no dead, robbers no